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Roisin Shortall TD

The Tánaiste should tell us whose version of events he believes – Mr Watt’s or his officials

The Tánaiste must address the clear contradictions in the accounts of the secretary general of the Department Of Health, Robert Watt, and his senior officials on the circumstances surrounding the botched secondment of Dr Tony Holohan to Trinity College Dublin, according to Social Democrats Health Spokesperson Róisín Shortall.

“The long-awaited report into the botched attempted secondment of former chief medical officer, Tony Holohan, has finally been published – but it contains clear contradictions in the accounts of senior officials.

“Remarkably, the Tánaiste has yet to comment on the fact that his chief of staff, during his tenure as Taoiseach, Deirdre Gillane, and the secretary general of the Department of Health, Robert Watt, appear to be at war with each other.

“Ms Gillane has said Mr Watt’s assertion that she was informed of the secondment of Mr Holohan is “grossly inaccurate”, “fatuous” and “wholly without foundation”.

“The former secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach, Martin Fraser, has also disputed Mr Watt’s version of events.

“The Tánaiste should now tell us whose version of events, in his debacle, he believes – Mr Watt’s or his officials.

“There are questions for Health Minster Stephen Donnelly arising from this report also. Namely, what accountability will there be for the fact that Mr Watt appears to have gone on a solo run when the secondment of Dr Holohan, at a cost of €23 million to the State, was being engineered behind the scenes.

“Instead of taking action, the Health Minister sat on this report for more than six months – and now, after all of that time, tells us his Department may review it to locate “learnings”.

“This report is clear that protocols surrounding the secondment of officials were not followed – while some of the most senior officials in government cannot even agree the narrative of what happened.

“The Tánaiste and the Health Minister must do more than bury this report – we need answers to those two crucial questions: who do they believe and where is the evidence of any accountability?”

18 April, 2023


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